Photo courtesy of Kevin Tachman/TREAT Asia
Lessons learnedAnnette Sohn5
For me, the main lesson gets back to the power of an integrated, multi-pronged approach. In this case, it’s using research to document problems and provide new insights, education to inform the community and advocacy to change policies and practices. Each component is integral to our ultimate goal of optimising treatment for paediatric populations in Asia and developing strategies for life-long care.
We’ve been able to learn and adjust to the challenges as we go. For example, we learned that some of the healthcare providers were not ready to study more complex issues like drug resistance, and needed basic and refresher trainings on paediatric care.
We’ve also evolved our programme over time to adapt to the shifting dynamics of the epidemic in the region. When we set out on our collaboration with the Seed Fund, we were dealing with a younger paediatric epidemic. Today, one-third of the children in the TREAT Asia network are 12 years of age or older. This collaboration has allowed us to increasingly expand our focus on this age group so that we now understand more about the long-term effects of HIV and its treatment on perinatally infected adolescents. We hope that the innovative questions we’ve started to explore and the pilot studies we’ve conducted thus far will lead to larger projects and greater interest both in and out of the region.
Something that we are continually reminded of at TREAT Asia is that networks and collaborations like the regional collaborations we’ve established here in the Asia-Pacific take time. We’re not here to run clinical trials and gather data and then leave; we are here to build capacity and a robust knowledge base in order to ensure a strong future for children with HIV in the region. That’s not something that can be done overnight.